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Author Topic: External HDs, OR, How to Economically Upgrade Our Laptops?
Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted February 06, 2010 09:10      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think the time has come for us to consolidate computers. Jonathan has a G4 iBook, running OS 10.3.9. I have a G3 Pismo PowerBook, running 10.4. What external HD do you recommend we use to harvest the data from both computers and store in one place?

Jonathan's computer stopped cooperating with the Internet, so we started using mine. The thing is, Jonathan's in grad school, and all his school files are on his laptop. I'm partial to the Pismo because the screen is bigger and 'cause it's mine. Jonathan's partial to his because it's his. You know the story. Anyway, I'd like to get rid of both computers and buy one that's newer/more reliable than these, but we need to pull the data first. What do you recommend?

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Posts: 3849 | From: Lancaster, PA | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Snaggy

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Icon 3 posted February 06, 2010 09:37      Profile for Snaggy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sell the iBook, get a new computer, but keep the Pismo. First off, you won't get much for the Pismo and it's a lovely machine. More importantly, you don't want to have to share a computer. Just like with continents, consolidation means eventual breakup.

As for hard drives, look for a 1 or 2 terabyte external if you can. Then if you get a newer computer, you can run Time Machine with it and always have fresh backups.

I bought our external HDs from Amazon. Use the JoT link. [Razz]

something like this...
Iomega Prestige 1.5 TB USB 2.0 Desktop External Hard Drive 34474 by Iomega
Buy new: $119.99

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Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted February 06, 2010 09:57      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks for the suggestion, Snaggy! The only thing I'm concerned about is the USB version. How do I find out if our laptops are USB 2.0 (without buying the Prestige only to find out we can't use it)?

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted February 06, 2010 12:11      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You shouldn't have any problem regardless of what version your USB ports are:
http://www.everythingusb.com/usb2/faq.htm#8

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted February 06, 2010 12:54      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by GrumpySteen:
You shouldn't have any problem regardless of what version your USB ports are:
http://www.everythingusb.com/usb2/faq.htm#8

Although filling a 1 TB drive via USB 1.1 might take a while.

The Pismo came with a 12 or 20 GB drive, and USB 1.1, which maxes out at a little over 1 MB/s, so 20 GB will take 4-5 hours to back up, annoying, but you're only doing it once.

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted February 06, 2010 13:38      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Personally, I'm quite partial to Western Digital. Other folks I know speak well of Seagate (though they bought Maxtor). The chief reason I buy WD external drives is because I know what drive will be inside -- certain cheap external drives may ship with terribly cheap, lousy drives inside...such as Maxtor drives. At the end of the day, I know I have a much better chance of staving off dataloss with a Western Digital drive. YMMV.

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Ugh, MightyClub
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Icon 1 posted February 06, 2010 18:16      Profile for Ugh, MightyClub     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Every brand is susceptible to failure, and many people have strong negative feelings about one or another. I have a maxtor network drive that is several years old and still spinning. I also have a newer western digital that has given us no trouble. On the other hand, we've had several seagates at work and every one has died pretty quickly.
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littlefish
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Icon 1 posted February 07, 2010 02:00      Profile for littlefish   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I don't know that much about these things, but I think network attached storage (NAS) has become a lot cheaper these days, and will help get a much better transfer rate than across USB1.

Off course, if you buy a new machine with a faster connector, you can offload your backups to the new machine across the network, then backup to the external storage from there. A bit of a a pain, but a lot faster than using slow USB.

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted February 07, 2010 06:58      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
____ Littlefish, I like your idea. Network issues may pop up for many people and become too much to handle. So far USB1 & 2 are forward and backward compatible. What happened to FireWire IEEE 133%. I my self do not want the back-up drive running all the time as it may become borked by one of the clients on the network. Will there be a USB3? Will it be compatible with all the other USBs? As it is here each computer has a printer, however there is a dot matrix printer attached to the router for fast Grey scale print jobs.

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Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted February 07, 2010 11:05      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks for the help, guys. The Pismo has a 100 Gb Western Digital HD (thanks, zesovietrussian!), but it's only about half full. I think we'll keep the Pismo, since it's so old. I'd like to sell the iBook, then buy a newer laptop, so littlefish's idea wouldn't quite work.

I have to say, though, I'm really tempted to buy this machine, even though it isn't a Mac. Am I foolish? http://lancaster.craigslist.org/sys/1584518715.html

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Posts: 3849 | From: Lancaster, PA | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
MacManKrisK

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Icon 1 posted February 07, 2010 11:48      Profile for MacManKrisK     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Rhonwyyn:
I have to say, though, I'm really tempted to buy this machine, even though it isn't a Mac. Am I foolish?

In a word: yes. Allow me to explain my reasoning.

For one, you're a Mac user, right now you enjoy the Mac experience, which includes being able to sleep well at night knowing your risk of contracting a virus or other malware is minimal. This machine would send you into the world of Windows, and you'd immediately have to start worrying about keeping on top of viruses and all that sort. Not that I'm trying to be a fear-monger, but that is just a major concern when you move /to/ Windows.

Second, it's an *old* laptop and it likely has issues or it wouldn't be being sold. You're going to inherit someone else's issues.

Third, it's an *old* laptop and is undoubtedly a slow, doggy machine. When it was brand new it probably ran Windows XP just fine, but that was most likely Windows XP with Service Pack 1, which ran pretty well on 512MB of RAM. Each service pack seems to require more memory and Windows XP with Service Pack 3 really doesn't do so well on 512MB. Of course you could just not install SP2 or SP3, but that would leave you even more vulnerable to viruses and the like.

That laptop, on the other hand, would be a very nice candidate for Linux assuming it doesn't have any hardware issues. I have a Compaq Evo N1000V which looks almost identical to that laptop (though it's a bit slower in the processor), using XP on it was painful, but Ubuntu Linux purrs along quite nicely.

Installing Linux and getting it set up is another can of worms though...

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get rich and you still die"


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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted February 07, 2010 12:22      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
That sure does read like a lot of fear-mongering.

Used properly, Windows can be a reasonably secure experience.

Just run without admin privileges, keep your OS and applications updated (in particular, Adobe Flash & Reader), and don't install software willy-nilly.

The exact same sentence above applies to Mac users.

Rhonwyyn is surely looking for a 'cheap computer,' and you're just not going to find that with Apple.

I'm not entirely sure how good or bad that particular computer is -- personally, I'd just recommend buying a brand new Dell. Given that "they don't make them like they used to" - you'll probably have to replace a used laptop within a year or two...spend a little more, and you'll have a computer to last you a few years running modern software. Hell...Windows 7 isn't /that/ bad - definitely better than Vista. [Smile]

I'd love to proselytize Linux, but I have to be realistic about target audiences. While it certainly has gotten more user-friendly over the years, it seems that most everyday users who have it thrust upon them are a bit 'lost' by the differences. For anyone who is technically inclined, it can be a great learning experience, and arguably a superior environment. Life with a highly usable CLI is just much better. [Big Grin] (Dealing with driver 'issues' is another story entirely. :/)

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Grummash

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Icon 1 posted February 07, 2010 13:11      Profile for Grummash     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm going to support a couple of dman's points, and differ on a third.

1) Much as I love Macs, you can't do 'budget computing' with anything new from Apple.

2) So...something new that is not Apple beats an old low-budget Mac. dman recommended Dell and I agree. I bought my Mini10V netbook just over three months ago and I think it's great.

3) And where do I differ from dman's point of view? Linux.
I currently run Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) on the Mini 10V but booting from a USB drive. Because 9.04 and the Mini 10V work so well together I would happily recommend that combination to a beginner. It is much less scary to me than trying to look after Windows XP when so many years have passed since I owned a Windows box.
I do accept that creating the bootable USB drive and configuring the Mini 10V to boot from USB may not be exactly beginner's level jobs, but I managed them so they can't be too difficult! [Big Grin]

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Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted February 07, 2010 15:19      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks for the advice. I'll take a look at Dell laptops. I think I'd be OK with using a Linux OS, but I'm not sure that Jonathan would be up for it. He gets frustrated with little things going wrong, y'know?

The one thing about having a Windoze machine is that I use it at work. I've been trying to convince them to let me work from home, so having a Windows machine that they wouldn't have to supply might be another bargaining chip.

I think Jonathan would be more open to buying a more expensive computer if we hadn't just purchased a new TV. So you're right, dman, I am looking more on the "cheap" side. I've always bought used when it comes to laptops. My brother has one of the latest generations of MacBooks, and boy, is it sweet!! I wish we had the budget for it, but when you're saving for a house, sometimes you have to stick with buying used, y'know?

I'd be tempted by this one, but I'm nervous how much more it would set me back replacing the LCD. http://lancaster.craigslist.org/sys/1589449661.html

(And yeah, I'm looking local to start; I figured that would be easier to deal with than eBay or something like that.)

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted February 07, 2010 16:37      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
____ Rhonwyyn, Okay if you are going to try a flavor of Linux you will be better off getting a PC or PC Laptop. Then so you don't drown on your first emmersion get a few Live CDs of various distros,

Kubuntu
Knoppix
Puppy
Fedora
Debian

____ The nice thing about live CDs is that you are not locked in, you can go back to what ever Ver. MS came on the machine.

____ I am still deciding on Ubuntu/Puppy I like them both, they both have very good points and bad points. In the end I probably will run Ubuntu and use a Puppy Live CD for banking and stock trading.

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Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.


Benjamin Franklin,

Posts: 5848 | From: Just South of the Huron National Forest, in the water shed of the Rifle River | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted February 07, 2010 16:43      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've used Knoppix. I liked Frozen Bubbles. I think that was about as far as I got. lol

EDIT: I think I've sorted out our plan of attack into three options (of which each has many subsets):

1- Upgrade the G4 iBook's OS to fix the "doesn't play friendly with the Internet anymore" problem, which would run us about $250, according to Amazon.
2- Buy an external HD to harvest the files from Jonathan's HD so he can use them on my computer. $120.
3- Buy a new (used) Mac laptop and swap the HDs, which could be anywhere from $250 to $999.

Oy. Choices are good, but I hate having so many sometimes! Thank God for you guys to help me out when I need it. I'm so grateful!!

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Callipygous
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Icon 1 posted February 07, 2010 22:11      Profile for Callipygous     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Rhonnie there's only one upgrade choice that will prevent you from limping along and then repeating the whole process next year, and that is
  • spend more money than you can either afford or your conscience will allow
  • get a Mac that is a good deal faster than you need
  • with a HD so large that you cannot imagine ever filling it up
  • and don't forget to max out the RAM (Leopards love it)
That way you with a bit of luck you may get something that will last you 3 years or so.

Have you considered bank robbery as a career choice? [Wink]

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted February 08, 2010 18:34      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I couldn't even begin to imagine sharing computers with my husband. We both need that space, y'know?

The trauma involved in changing OSes is entirely user dependent. You'll know better than anyone else here how you and/or your hubby will deal. I'm equally incompetent with Macs, PCs, and *nix machines and seem to swap between them with alarming frequency, depending on what I need to do. Especially between Leopard and Windows 7 and XP...I bounce between the three daily. Usually it works, but sometimes I feel like I'm tangled up in uncanny valley. [Roll Eyes]

PCs cost much less than Macs and Windows 7 isn't half bad. I say this because PCs typically come pre-loaded with their OS. In the days of Vista, people in my department who bought new computers would get them downgraded to XP. They aren't doing that with Windows 7...most of the time (I can think of a couple circumstances under which someone might do that, but that's got more to do with the quirks of physicists than Windows).

Linux will run just fine most of the time. The people who fuss about it are the ones who like to fsck around with it. And fscking around with Linux seems to be a cultural thing with using Linux. But, at the surface, the GUIs for Linux tend to be user-friendly and fairly intuitive. I've actually seen people use Linux and think they were working in a XP environment!!
[crazy]

BTW, you'll get more bang for your buck with a desktop. Just some food for thought, though I know from personal experience that laptops tend to be a better fit for grad students.

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Stibbons
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Icon 1 posted February 08, 2010 23:10      Profile for Stibbons   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Xanthine speaks a lot of sense (as usual). But I'd highlight the comment on desktops being better value for money - I use a fairly high-spec desktop, which cost about a third of the equivalent spec laptop and is far easier to upgrade - with a cheapo netbook (Eee 901) for when I need to do work on campus/placements/the road.
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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted February 09, 2010 02:42      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
____ Rhonwyyn, I know of one HAM that became tired of his family clicking on every thing and filling the OS with junk. His cure he installed Ubuntu, he was Admin and every one else had user accounts, and logins. When he was asked "why does it look different?" his reply "Its Windows Seven."

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Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.


Benjamin Franklin,

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted February 10, 2010 11:19      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
____ Rhonwyyn, You May want to go here.

http://www.macworld.com/article/146245/2010/02/cleanoutcruft.html

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Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.


Benjamin Franklin,

Posts: 5848 | From: Just South of the Huron National Forest, in the water shed of the Rifle River | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
Rhonwyyn

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Icon 1 posted February 10, 2010 11:38      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The reason I keep holding out for a laptop is our apartment is small; we have only one table and no room for a desk. That table is used for baking, sewing, studying, and occasionally dining. I have no idea where we'd put a desktop. At least with the laptop we can sit in the recliner or on the couch and work. It's not the portability that I'm looking for; it's the space.

Now, we just bought a new HD TV. If there was a way to run a desktop through the TV, that might be something to consider. Except that if one of us is using the computer, the other one gets to control the remote, so that wouldn't work.

I know, I know. Excuses, excuses. You're right, Calli. We just need to pony up and pay!

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Stibbons
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Icon 1 posted February 11, 2010 05:45      Profile for Stibbons   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Rhonwyyn:
Now, we just bought a new HD TV. If there was a way to run a desktop through the TV, that might be something to consider. Except that if one of us is using the computer, the other one gets to control the remote, so that wouldn't work.

It's doable, because that's what quite a few of my friends in similar situations do! But it might not be responsive enough for gaming? Some hardware geek might be able to say more about this.

I'm similarly restricted on space, so the actual desktop itself is hidden away, and there's just a TFT (easily pushed back to create space) and wireless keyboard/mouse (can be shoved in a draw etc) on the desk. Seems to me the perfect compromise between cost/performance/space. Though that doesn't solve your wanting to sit on the couch thing (*cou-netbook-gh* [Wink] )

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CommanderShroom
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Icon 1 posted February 11, 2010 12:57      Profile for CommanderShroom     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A few thoughts.

You will never buy a new Mac for dirt cheap, Just not happening.

I would consider a Netbook if Jonathan is OK with it. Here is the thinking. T's Toshiba will live for up to 8 hours straight unplugged. It is small and portable. Sucks for gaming and of course you don't get an Optical drive, but it goes for a nice low price.

And Office can be installed, and also you can get USB optical drives if that is what you want.

However it is Windows or Linux.

One computer can be a pain in the a**. Especially if both of you need the computers for any extended period of time. Papers, articles, pr0n, etc.

Now you can buy a decent USB based external drive for cheap, but if you can pony up, they make network enabled set ups which are nice if you need to do heavy file sharing.

If you *must* have OS X on something, then consider a Mini plugged to the TV with a Wireless Keyboard and Mouse. The plus to that is you can then add stuff like Boxee to do more advanced media tasks. Plus you can then enable file sharing to get stuff on and off the system.

Honestly I am not a big fan of buying laptops used. Unless you know and trust the previous owner. Desktops can have just about any part easily and cheaply replaced, or updated. Laptops are not nearly so friendly.

I use a mix of a few things at home. Media system that also does my file sharing, a laptop, and a netbook. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. And then also on the network are Windows systems, and a Mini for Mac testing. So really you need to look at what you can spend along with what you can live with. Then make your decision from there.

But a small place, along with needing mobility, you probably will not be happy with desktops.

Posts: 2465 | From: Utarrrrggggghhh!!!!!!!! | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
fs

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Icon 1 posted February 13, 2010 04:56      Profile for fs   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My solution to the problem would be to resolve whatever is causing Jonathan's network issue. If it's a hardware problem and his onboard nic has just given out, someone more Mac savvy than me could probably recommend an external replacement (USB?) that would cost a lot less than a new Mac notebook. (I assume it's no longer under warranty, or you'd have taken it in already.)

And then add something compact and inexpensive, like an Eee running Linux that you can use for network storage and to share services like printing. You can just stick it on a shelf in the closet or something, out of the way. No lugging it around and swapping cables and stuff.

(And if you're not sure how to go about setting up and using a server, there's lots of info out there. Plus, there's everybody here.)

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